I destroyed some of my old pieces today - work that was no good and couldn't be "fixed" with another layer of paint or collage. I used to carry these to show after show but never put them up on the wall because I didn't like them. As I was doing my inventory today it struck me that I didn't even want to count a couple of the paintings. Talk about negative energy, these pieces were literally dragging me down they were that bad. And I started to think about that.
Why would I even keep work that I dislike so much?
When I couldn't find a reason, destruction made sense. So I slashed them, right through the canvas with my knife. I ripped off layer after layer. It was violent yet felt powerfully symbolic. Then I made a pact with myself........I must insist on a certain standard for my work, a standard of truth that I (and only I) can set. I cannot deviate even if I am crazed to meet a deadline. Even if I need to quickly build inventory for a show. Even if other people might find the work acceptable, it doesn't matter.
I remember a teacher of mine talking about this years ago, about how she would burn failed paintings. At the time I thought it was nuts as I didn't think anything she did could ever be deemed "failed."
But now I understand.